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You don't always get what you paid for

1 Apr 2013 likeaflower said

likeaflower

I went on the Wild Western tour 26 Sep 2012 - 09 Oct 2012. In the brochure, it was heavily advertised with "2 nights special stay accommodation" at "Bass Lake Resort". There are three images throughout the brochure depicting the serene cabin accommodation overlooking the lake.

However, once my travel pack arrived, I noticed the accommodation was not "Bass Lake Resort", but the rather less appealing "America's Best Value Inn" situated some 14miles away in a small town called Oakhurst. No word from Contiki, or a courtesy message included. I guess they count on their clientele to have no clue, nor read the brochure. I was furious, I jumped on the forum and found out that people on the tour before and after mine got the advertised accommodation. I rang up Contiki, the girl on the phone practically had a gag order on her, her superior instructed her that I had to speak to my travel agent, and they had to have the argument with Contiki. My travel agent called, after numerous repetitions of the line "Contiki has the right to change accommodation as per our T&Cs", Contiki finally said "she can email this address xxx AFTER the tour to get reimbursed the difference." My travel agent wasn't happy with this, it's not fair that they can take your money and give you a cheaper substitution. Yes the can change accommodation, but they can't change the "2 nights special stay" and "America's Best Value Inn" was NO special stay! My optimistic travel agent thought they might make it up to us on the trip...

As I didn't want to negatively affect my trip, I decided to play by their rules and hold fire until I returned. It was a good tour... when I asked the tour guide about the accommodation switch his response was "Oh you noticed that?" I guess not all your customers are blind drunk afterall? To somewhat make up for it, the tour guide brokered a deal to let us play in their pool for a few hours. While we were there, I sussed out the accommodation. The other shops said it was vacant, it didn't look like it was under renovation, and a big company like Contiki heavily advertising their swell digs would surely buy their allotments in advance. So I can't imagine why the switch, there was no valid reason.

According to both the hotels websites, there was a big difference in cost between Bass Lake Resort and America's Best value Inn by $70 p/night. Over 2 nights, that's $140... multiply that by the 52 passengers, and Contiki makes a tidy profit of $7,280.

When I came home, I sent the email with the history and requesting a partial refund on the difference. After New Year I received my officious reply, again reiterating the company's T&Cs - BUT blatantly lying that they had substituted it with sufficient accommodation. I rang them up and was given the "you have to speak to your travel agent, we aren't allowed to have this discussion with tours booked through agents." I contacted my travel agent. When she spoke to them, they said the opposite - that I had to contact them directly! Neither of us could get anywhere, so she asked me to send her an email and she'll forward it to their Contiki representative. It's been 1 month and I haven't had a response.

I'm sick of dancing this stupid dance Contiki. I've been a loyal customer for years, I've done 4 Contiki's to date and was seriously considering a few more over the next few years. Are you willing to risk losing a loyal customer, and somewhat of a brand advocate (who's not your typical drunk) over $140?

My warning to everyone considering Contiki - if you see something inconsistent with advertising before you leave, iron it out straight away.

I guess I'll be seeing Spain & Italy with TopDeck.

  • 2 Apr 2013 zoejanaye said

    zoejanaye

    I’ve just had a look seeing as I’m doing this tour – and the printed brochure says special stay – however the website has “Quad Share Chalet” doesn’t actually specify the place. I know when I did my Contiki in New Zealand, the names of the hotels weren’t released until 45 days prior to the tour. Maybe they change? I guess you don’t actually know what your $$ go into, seeing as they don’t give you a breakdown.

  • 4 Apr 2013 likeaflower said

    likeaflower

    Maybe it’s changed this year, but last year it was specifically publicized throughout the printed brochure & website as “2 nights special stay at Bass Lake Resort”.

  • 4 Apr 2013 AndyNZ said

    AndyNZ

    I done the trip in 09, it was the Quad Share Chalet on the hill behind the Resort whos photos are in the catalogue. it was a great trip, friends have done the trip too and its was exactly the same except now they stay in Harrahs when in Las Vegas instead of the dodgy drug hole that was previous at. Only difference was due to tour manager. They stuck a good one.

  • 21 Apr 2013 Dave said

    Dave

    my question is are YOU really that bothered about $140 difference seriously who cares!, as long as your in the same city and have a place to sleep , is it really a big deal to make so may phone calls and time wasted trying to chase this down? you have most likely spent more time and money on the phone trying to get the $140 refunded then its worth,
    just saying lol :)

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